READER POLL // Should Restaurants Be Going Public About Possible Covid Exposures?

Since the beginning of the pandemic there has not been an established protocol for how restaurants should react when faced with possible Covid-19 exposures. Many have posted well-meaning “advisories” to their social media channels, sharing how a staff member or customer had tested positive for the virus, believing such disclosures were for the common good. Such is the natural compulsion of honest companies that don’t want to hide anything! Others – including an industry friend/colleague who posted about it to her personal Instagram (thus inspiring this post) – believe (I think rightly) the posts not only contribute unnecessarily to public anxiety but also illegally disclose the private health information of diners and staff — essentially arguing that restaurants should leave the advisories up to the professionals.

Since it might be helpful if the restaurant community held a common front on this, we’d like our readers to weigh in to establish evidence of majority opinion on one side or the other…

Out of well meaning "abundance of caution" and without prompting by health authorities, should restaurants publicly disclose Covid-19 exposures on their premises?

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Hat tip: WU.

There are 4 comments

  1. I have mixed feelings here; I think that being open about it making discussion about exposure and risk more acceptable is probably a good thing. I also worry about exposing people – especially staff members – to disclosure about their illness, which isn’t without repercussions. Being too aggressive with this sort of disclosure can be a huge disincentive to reporting!

    I think if restaurants did more than just announce “it happened” and include information about steps they took, what customers should expect, and point people at public health policies and resources, that could do a lot of good. Roughly, this:

    – this happened, date, times.
    – we are supporting our employee (if relevant)
    – we have been in contact with public health
    – informed risk is minimal
    – they will be doing contact tracing
    – we are enhancing procedures
    – etc. etc.
    – see here for information…

    Leaving that up to people’s imaginations, especially when we have all this time to imagine the worst these days, isn’t a great choice.

  2. Hmm, not sure about public disclosure, but we sign in at an establishment for a reason. In case of positive test among a customer or client the people on the list would be contacted.
    Am I correct about that?
    That to me should be all that is necessary, inform the people who are potentially affected

  3. You hit the nail on the head. A common front is what is needed. And really it should not be up to the restaurants to develop, it should be developed and implemented by the health department. We were recently notified via IG that there was a case at a restaurant we dined at. That post was from the restaurant, and stated there were no concerns for guests. But it would be more reassuring if we were assured that by some govt agency as opposed to the establishment.

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